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Squire v. Fedex Freight, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 19, 2018

MIKO SQUIRE Plaintiff
v.
FEDEX FREIGHT, INC. Defendant

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Marvin J. Garbis United States District Judge

         The Court has before it Defendant FedEx Freight, Inc.'s Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [ECF No. 21] and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds that a hearing is unnecessary.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         FedEx Freight, Inc. is the remaining Defendant in this case as the Court previously granted Defendant Terrika Martin's Motion to Dismiss. See Order Re: Motions at 2, ECF No. 19. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [ECF No. 21] charges Defendant with retaliation and discrimination based on (1) gender identity, (2) sex, and (3) sexual orientation, in violation of the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act.

         Miko Squire (“Squire”) worked as a truck driver for FedEx Freight, Inc. (“FedEx”) from January 2014 to March 2017. Am. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 20. Squire was born female but has identified as male his entire adult life.[2] Id. ¶¶ 4-5. Squire currently identifies as male and is married to a female. Id. ¶ 4.

         In January 2014, FedEx hired Squire as a truck driver, and he worked for over two years without complaint. Id. ¶ 6. In August 2016, Squire submitted a request for time off from work to his Human Resources representative, Terrika Martin (“Martin”), in order to have a hysterectomy, the final stage of gender reassignment surgery. Id. ¶ 7.

         Upon returning to work in October 2016, Squire faced discipline and criticism by FedEx, even though his performance remained the same as before his surgery. Id. ¶ 9. Squire believed this treatment was due to his gender, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation. Id. Squire was afraid that Martin had informed FedEx of his operation and gender change. Id. ¶ 11. Martin was aware of Squire's gender change, as she had advised Squire not to report his hysterectomy to the Department of Transportation. Id. ¶ 8. When Squire expressed concern to Martin that he was being discriminated by FedEx, Martin stated that based on the factual circumstances of each incident, Squire should not have faced discipline. Id. ¶ 11.

         On March 20, 2017, at the end of a work shift, FedEx informed Squire that he would have to work an additional shift that day. Id. ¶ 12. FedEx's policy is to assign overtime based on how long an employee has been at FedEx, and those on a shift that have been employed for the least amount of time are typically assigned any extra work. Id. ¶ 13. Squire advised FedEx that there were other employees with a shorter tenure who should be assigned the extra work. Id. ¶ 14. Additionally, Squire advised FedEx that he was unable to work due to a preexisting doctor's appointment. Id. ¶ 12. FedEx advised Squire that it is against policy to refuse extra work, however, no such policy was included in FedEx's online manual, which is several hundred pages long. Id. ¶¶ 15-16.

         After refusing to work the “extra work” shift, FedEx suspended, and later terminated Squire's employment. Id. ¶¶ 15, 17. FedEx claims Squire's termination was a result of his refusal to work. Id. ¶ 17. Squire alleges his termination was the result of discrimination by FedEx. Id.

         On March 20, 2017, Squire completed an EEOC Intake Questionnaire [ECF No. 24-1]. However, in his questionnaire Squire did not mark any box under the section entitled, “What is the reason (basis) for your claim of employment discrimination?”[3]Id. at 2. On the final page of the questionnaire, a complainant may mark either of two boxes. One requests an EEOC employee speak with the complainant and the other requests the EEOC to file a charge. Squire did not mark either box. Id. at 4.

         On May 11, 2017, Squire filed an EEOC Charge of Discrimination [ECF No. 22-1]. In his charge, Squire only marks the box for “SEX, ” under the section entitled “DISCRIMINATION BASED ON.” Id. Squire specifies that he believes he was discriminated against based on his “sex (Gender Identity/Transgender).” Id.

         On August 10, 2017, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights [ECF No. 18-3] to Squire.

         Squire presents claims for retaliation and employment discrimination based on (1) gender, (2) gender identity, and/or (3) sexual orientation, under the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (“MFEPA”). Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 20-601 et seq. (West 2015). FedEx seeks partial dismissal of Squire's retaliation claim and discrimination claim based on sexual orientation, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6). In this motion, FedEx does not seek dismissal of the gender or gender identity discrimination claims.

         II. DISMISSAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)[4] tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. A complaint need only contain "'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (citations omitted). When evaluating a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are accepted as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. However, conclusory statements or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not [suffice]." Id. A complaint must allege sufficient facts "to cross 'the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         Inquiry into whether a complaint states a plausible claim is "'a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Thus, if "the well-pleaded facts [contained within a complaint] do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not 'show[n]' - 'that the pleader is ...


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